What do pickleweed, oyster shells, and a turkey vulture puppet have in common? They were all key teaching tools during a very special guided walk this fall along China Camp’s Turtle Back Nature Trail.
Earlier this year, Friends of China Camp teamed up with our partners at San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (SF Bay NERR). The mutual goal was to create ways to showcase NERR’s ongoing research at China Camp, and share the park with traditionally underserved communities.
Guided walk on our ADA-compliant Turtle Back Trail
Since there are often barriers that make it more difficult for people with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors, we wanted to make sure that was not the case at China Camp. So in 2020, our park maintenance volunteers resurfaced our ADA-compliant, ¾-mile Turtle Back Nature Trail. Our next goal was to connect our local community to our newly restored outdoor resource and to offer a meaningful educational experience.
A call was put out to Lifehouse, a San Rafael-based nonprofit organization that provides services and programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A September date was picked. On the appointed (thankfully smoke-free and beautiful) morning, more than a dozen participants, some in wheelchairs, showed up at the Turtle Back trailhead, ready for the walk.
“With the pandemic, people we serve have gotten a little slow and sedate,” noted Kate O’Connor, Director of Programs and Operations at Lifehouse, at the start of the walk. “This event gives us a great chance to get outside and start moving again.”